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Grandpa's Passing

He wanted to die with his boots on,
He'd have been ninety one this Fall,
But his boots stood by the bootjack
And his old hat hung on the wall.

He said "Son, you don't get your choice,
In spite of what I've said;
It looks like I'm no different,
I reckon I'll die in bed.

I don't want folks to make a fuss
And don't you shed no tears,
Heaven knows I'm old enough
And my Annie's been gone for years.

"Grandpa started downhill fast
Once he'd made up his mind,
And I sat there in the leather chair
To watch his spring unwind.

He told me about his silver spurs
And about "Buck" his favorite mount,
And about all the yearlings he had sold
While I listened to him count.

He told me about my father
And Bill and uncle Dan,
And every moment I spent with him
Has helped make me a better man.

Late one night he called Grandma's name,
And I thought it was just a dream,
But when I turned the light on
His tears flowed like a stream.

Next morning he wouldn't eat,
He pushed his medicine aside,
"Son, your Grandma's just as beautiful
As she was the day she died.

She said to saddle up old Buck
And to gather up my tack,
And when I'd had myself prepared
She promised she'd come back.

I guess I'm a bit mixed up
Spendin' too much time in bed.
Somehow I had it in my head
Old Buck was long since dead!"

Then he leaned back and closed his eyes
Without a sign of fear,
And I took the leather chair once more
Knowing the end was near.

They tell me that all the strain
Might have caused my mind to stray,
But I saw Grandpa mount old Buck
And smile as he rode away.

The Doctor came right over,
And I left the room at dawn,
That's when I first noticed
Grandpa's boots and hat were gone.

Colen H. Sweeten Jr.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Grandpa Goes to Town

This ranch of ours is so far away
From the pavement and city lights
That we have never even heard about
Protests and equal rights.

So our grandson came in his new car
To take the old folks for a ride
He said it would do us good to see
What was going on "outside."

I promised Ma I'd hold my tongue
But it was really kinda hard
When he drove up to the ranch
And started to walk across the yard.

His cuffs were bunched up on his fee
tBut there was nothing wrong,
It was just the latest style
To buy the pantlegs much too long.

His shoes were made of canvas
With rubber for the sole
And he walked with feet spread out
Sorta like a bloated bull.

Shoelaces as big as a piggin' string
And the longest he could find!
But they weren't laced up at all
They just trailed along behind.

He just moved it all along
Without much action in his legs
He walked as smooth as a hired-girl
With her apron full of eggs.

I wondered if he'd dry our road
After a summer rainy spell
Or if one trip across the back
Would mop a wet corral.

Then his girlfriend came wigglin' up
Like something wasn't right
But I could see what the trouble was,
Her clothes were just too tight.

She had those shrunken blue jeans
Stretched tight across her rump
And stove blackin' made her eyes look
Like two holes in a burned-out stump.

And I just said, "Good morning,"
`though I admit I had some doubt.
I just couldn't help but wonder
How this morning would turn out.

Well Ma and I got in the back
And he took off down the road--
That kid put more fear in me
Than any bronk I ever rode.

We went slidin' `round the corners
And on the straightaway we flew,
I just cinched up my seatbelt
And said every prayer I knew.

He explained about the freeways
But I sorta got up-tight,
When he wanted to take us to the left
He'd turn off to the right.

In the parking garage if you wanted up,
The sign said you must go down.
Boy they had my head spinnin'
Before we hardly hit the town!

We couldn't tell by lookin'
Which were girls and which were guys;
Even drove us past a beach resort,
But Ma just closed her eyes.

Now I'm tellin' you when we got through
And started back toward the sticks,
I was gettin' mighty lonesome
To see some common country hicks.

So I think I'll be an ostrich,
Stick my head down in the sand,
And spend the time that I have left
With my feet on my own land.

Colen H. Sweeten Jr.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Daddy's Bells

My Daddy was a freighter,
His wagons rolled across the West,
With Daddy in the driver's seat,
A silver chain across his vest.
He built a cabin on a homestead
In the edge of friendly pines,
But the only way to save the ranch
Was haulin' freight up to the mines.
I helped Mother run the ranch
The best that we knew how,
Daddy took most all the horses
But we always had a cow.

Sometimes I'd step outside the house
At night when it was late,
I'd walk down the lane to meet him
And just stand there by the gate.
The stars above would glisten
Where the road winds through the hills,
I'd hold my breath and listen
For the sound of Daddy's bells.
At last when he came rollin' in
From that long and dusty ride,
He'd step down and hand the reins to me
And hug my Mother 'till she cried.

Chorus
Daddy's bells, my heart swells
When I recall his wagons in the night,
Daddy's Bells, Daddy's bells,
The sound that told me everything was right.

Colen H. Sweeten Jr.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The early wagon freighters had a short string of bells hanging on the harness of the lead team.  On mountain roads or at night the driver would stop the team at one of the wide spots in the road called "turnouts" and rest the horses while he listened for the sound of other freighter's bells. If he could hear bells he would wait until the other wagon had passed so they wouldn't have trouble trying to pass on a narrow road. In some areas it was a custom to give up your bells to the freighter who had to pull another freighter's outfit out of a bad spot or rescue him from a situation he couldn't handle without help. From this custom comes the saying, "I'll be there with bells on." This could be translated to mean," I'll be there on time and I wont need any help."  


Unseen Helper

I can feel dad's presence on this place,
Although I never see his face,
While movin' along in this uphill race,
My Dad keeps nudgin' me.

We layed him to rest ten years ago,
I've been runnin' the ranch the best I know,
But when I slow down he lets me know,
He keeps on nudgin' me.

I feel his presence at the hitchin' rack,
On a wagon load or up on the stack,
He trailed to the summer range and back,
He still keeps nudgin' me.

Early in the morning and late at night
He sends me back to do it right,
He even helped defend my water right,
He's always nudgin' me.

Don't think it weird, it's not like that,
But I can feel the shadow of his hat,
It's like a poke in the ribs where there's no fat,
The way he nudges me.

Now life at best is still too short,
And I guess my dad barely got a start
At raisin' me, but bless his heart,
I hope he keeps on nudgin' me.

Colen H. Sweeten Jr.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


 

This Old Barn

Could this old barn but find a way
To tell the tales of yesterday!
When cows were wild and the horses rough,
And you'd rather bleed than say "enough."

Here generations now quite gray,
First got a start and had their day.
Where men were men and the days were long,
Where Dad held court when the boys did wrong.

So warm when a blizzard raged outside,
Yet cool in summer after a ride.
So far from the house Mom wouldn't yell,
Close enough to hear the dinner bell.

Now sounds of horses eating hay,
Stir echoes of a bygone day.
When boys chinned themselves on the sturdy rafter,
In the silent barn which holds their laughter.

Colen H. Sweeten Jr.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Read more of Honored Guest Colen Sweeten's poetry here at the BAR-D.

 

 

Dad's Truck

The old pickup sits there quietly.
I guess now that it's mine.
For 24 years it was my Dad's
and he kept it up just fine.
Had to park it there just-so.
He polished it every year;
hauled the wood and hauled the trash
and hauled the hunting gear.
Our old dog loved to ride with us
inside on the floor.
I see them there in my mind's eye
until I can't look anymore.
We'll put a monument where he rests
that gives the name and date,
but that old truck tells more of his tale
and now it will sit and wait,
until I go and get the keys
and take us for a ride--
me and the trash and other things
and the memories inside. . .

May 2002, Jean A. Mathisen    
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Never Forgotten

Bob Mathisen
1924 - 2002



 

  

 

 

Read more of Lariat Laureate runner up Jean Mathisen's poetry here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of CowboyPoetry.com.

 

 

The Coffee Shop

I sat across the coffee shop from an old man
Very old I'd say
And beside him sat a young man
Not yet five years of age
And the very old man
Had very old hands
Coarse and rough and callused
But in one hand
He held that young mans' hand
Like a priceless jewell
In a weathered chalice
And somehow you knew
That no act of nature
That no act of man
Could ever willfully extract
That young mans' hand
From the hand of that very old man
That young boy
The son of his son
Was more to him than life
He was the part of his soul
That would continue to soar
When his own reached the end of its flight
And the eyes of that elderly gentleman
Were as bright as the eyes of the child
They danced with rich luminescence
Each time that little boy smiled
I listened for their conversation
But I couldn't understand a word
But I understood what it was I heard
They laughed and laughed
Told stories only they would know
Their voices a marvelous harmony
One voice high, one voice low
One voice young, one voice old
And in a moment of sudden clarity
That caught me by surprise
I watched as that very old man
Grew young before my eyes
And when at last I left the coffee shop
I did not see what the others did
I did not see a very old man
And a very young boy
All I saw
Was just those two kids
 
2002, Richard Elloyan    
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Lariat Laureate runner up Richard Elloyan's poetry here.

Featured in "The Big Roundup," an anthology of the best of CowboyPoetry.com.

 

At Codding's Place

For just a moment I thought I saw,
Our brood mare lying in the straw,
Foaling a colt in the early morn.
Now the weeds grow tall where he was born.

The tack shed with the sagging gate,
Is where I learned to sit and wait,
As my father caught his horses at dawn.
It's quiet now - the horses are gone.

For just a moment I could smell it again,
That good horse smell in the old catch pen,
Same warm smell on both young and old.
You can't go back - the horses are sold.

It was the scene of a trailer fight,
Between Dad and Slippers - oh what a sight,
The rope took off part of his thumb.
Just maybe now, I should not have come.

At Codding's place was my first ride,
My father walking close beside,
He carved out memories for me his son.
Where he kept horses now there are none.

Those boyhood horses each had a hole,
That left a mark upon my soul.
At Codding's Place was my first ride,
My father walking close beside.

In another place and another time,
On a different farm that I call mine,
We keep our horses on that place,
A paint, a pinto and a bally face.

2003, Paul R. Kern
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more of Paul Kern's poetry here.

Granddad

He taught me to ride and to put on my spurs
And when I bucked off he gave me the nerve
To climb back in the saddle of that ornery old hoss
To hang and rattle and show him who's boss

Now I never thanked him for all that he gave
And there's allot more that he took to his grave
He was the best friend that I ever had
Always remember my dear old Granddad

When I got older and started to flirt
He taught me with fillies you don't use a quirt
You must be gentle, yes that is the plan
You'll have them eating right out of your hand

Now I never thanked him for all that he gave
And there's allot more that he took to his grave
He was the best friend that I ever had
Always remember my dear old Granddad

He was the smartest man that I ever knew
He taught me things that you don't learn in school
Like the value of being true to your word
And not believe all that you've heard

Now I never thanked him for all that he gave
And there's allot more that he took to his grave
He was the best friend that I ever had
Always remember my dear old Granddad
Yes, I still remember my dear old Granddad

2010, Glenn Martin and Richard Martin
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.
 

Read more of Glenn Martin's poetry and lyrics here.

 

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